Vernon N. Lee, Jr.Mr. Vernon Lee, Jr is a Partner and Co-Founder of The Marathon Fund, an early-stage…
Carl Francis is the Director of Communications for the National Football League Players Association. As…
Originally from Havre de Grace, Maryland, Jaylyn Brown has called Hampton Roads home for the…
Dr. W. Timothy Orr
Dr. W. Timothy Orr (Tim) is an Assistant Professor/ Coordinator of Sport Administration Graduate Program…
John Cunningham has over 20 years of business leadership, professional services and business start-up experience.…
Vernon N. Lee, Jr.
Mr. Vernon Lee, Jr is a Partner and Co-Founder of The Marathon Fund, an early-stage equity fund primarily investing in high-growth innovative businesses. The fund aims to deploy capital with exceptional entrepreneurs that have been historically underrepresented (Black, LatinX, Women, Disabled, Veterans, and LGBTQ) in the institutional private capital markets. Mr Lee is also a member of the Global Impact Fund II investment committee.
Mr. Lee founded Brightwood Management Partners, LLC, a disabled Veteran owned advisory firm to several public and privately held companies, investors, entrepreneurs, and entertainment partners. Areas of expertise include strategic partnerships, business operation improvement, digital transformation, governance & risk, and agile implementation. The firm has done business with partners in China and Africa.
Mr. Lee previously chaired the Venture Capital Access Program (VCAP), a partnership between The Marathon Foundation, Harvard Business School Alumni Angels of New York (HBSAANY), and the National Association of Investment Companies (NAIC). He is also a judge for the i.Invest National Youth Business competition and Startup Runway pitch competition.
Mr Lee was a member of a delegation of senior U.S. business leaders that participated in the Committee of 100’s Greater China business conference in Beijing. Strategic discussions were held with high level China business executives to include Dr Gao Xiqing, former President, China Investment Corporation.
Mr. Lee previously served as the U.S. planning committee chair for the United States/France Private Equity and Venture Capital Summit in Paris, France. The U.S. delegation, representing over $500 billion (US) in assets under management included various institutional private equity investors. Event sponsors included The Senate of the Republic of France, The Greater Paris Investment Agency, The French Venture Capital Association, and U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration (ITA).
Mr. Lee was previously a Director in PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) Business Advisory Practice with responsibility for providing operational business improvement strategies, governance, controls, strategic planning, and process reengineering for clients in the Technology, InfoComm, and Entertainment & Media industry. Mr. Lee also served as PwC’s relationship manager for minority venture capital/private equity initiatives to include increasing access to capital. He was also responsible for leading the implementation of program/project management solutions and methodologies for PwC’s Global Risk Management Solutions – InfoComm Advisory Services group. While in this position, Mr. Lee led the global deployment (U.S., UK, Japan, France, & Germany) of an Internet Protocol (IP) VPN for a UK based telecom carrier.
Prior to that position, Mr. Lee was an Air Force acquisition officer in the Satellite Communications Program Office and Aeronautical Systems Center where he provided program management, research & development, and financial management expertise. Mr Lee received several junior officer of the quarter awards while also being actively involved in the Tuskegee Airman, Inc Military Affairs Committee.
Mr Lee has been a panelist at SXSW, DC Startup Week, Culture Shift Weekend, and a number of others to also include a special guest appearance on the Invisible Man podcast. Mr. Lee is co-founder of The Hampton Roads Youth Foundation and chairs The Marathon Foundation. He is also a past board member of the Southeast Fairfax County Development Corporation, Embark Richmond Highway, and past Chair of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc’s (Washington, DC Chapters) Youth Performing Arts/Talent Hunt Committee.
Mr. Lee received his MA in International Affairs from University of Dayton and his BBA in Management from Howard University. He is a life member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He currently resides in Alexandria, VA with his wife and daughter.
Carl Francis is the Director of Communications for the National Football League Players Association. As Director of Communications, Carl is responsible for managing the public image for the NFLPA.
Carl is responsible for developing the internal/external communications strategy for the NFL Players Association. He has developed numerous digital media campaigns to communicate effective messaging with NFLPA members and the public. He serves as the spokesman for the NFLPA before print, television, radio, digital, and all sports-related media.
In 1994, his first year as Communications Director, Carl skillfully created a public relations campaign that assisted the media and players in understanding the nuances of the new free-agency system and the newly agreed upon Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA.
He closed the communication gap between the NFLPA and the writers by providing information on the NFLPA and free-agency system through mass mailings, e-mailing, and creating an interactive presence on the NFLPA website. Carl holds several informal meetings with the media throughout the country to discuss the objectives and goals of the NFLPA. In 1994, 1999, and 2000, he was a finalist for the Horrigan award given to the NFL official who exemplified hard work in assisting NFL writers to do their job.
Carl has spearheaded many NFLPA community-related activities. He spearheaded a $10 million media campaign for the UNCF NFL/NFLPA Scholarship Fund which generated contributions from NFL players and the NFL for young people to attend historically black colleges and universities. He forged a relationship with Steve Harvey to create a series of “Celebrity Family Feud Shows” featuring NFL players competing for prizes benefitting player charities which have generated over 25 million viewers and raised over $500k toward player charities.
He currently manages the broadcasting rights, marketing, and media for the NFLPA Annual Collegiate Bowl, the post-season college football game for NFL draft-eligible college players which has been the highest-rated event among college bowl games on NFL Network. Created the NFLPA Black College Pro Player of the Year Award, given annually to a current NFL player who has attended an HBCU at the Black College Hall of Fame dinner. Carl has coordinated several NFLPA Mental Wellness Symposiums around the country featuring NFL players, former players, player spouses, medical experts, wellness organizations, and clinicians discussing mental health stigmas, developing healthy minds, wellness training, and community support.
He currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University in their Graduate Sports Industry Management Program where he teaches Sports Communications/PR. He also taught a week-long course in sports public relations as part of sports cultural exchange program with the Josoor Institute in Dohar, Qatar.
Prior to joining the NFL Players Association, Carl spent two seasons with the Washington Redskins public relations staff.
Carl is an active member of the National Association of Black Journalists, Public Relations Society of America, and Virginia High School League Foundation. He has been featured on various panels across the country discussing communications in sports. He also serves as an Advisory Board member for Route Analytics and Playerstv.
In 2010, he received the Peninsula Sports Club: President’s Award for his work in the sports industry exemplifying character and integrity in the Hampton Roads area.
Carl is also very active in his hometown of Hampton, Virginia. He is co-founder of the Hampton Roads Youth Foundation which assists high school student-athletes with free SAT Prep courses, technology tutorial programs and coordinates an annual student-athlete leadership forum. Also under his foundation, Carl coordinates an annual free two-day football camp, a recruiting jamboree, tailgate event with Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin. His foundation has impacted over 8,000 student-athletes and distributed over $12k of scholarships to high school students through the Vernon Lee, Sr. Scholarship Program.
A native of Hampton, Virginia, Francis received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Communications from Virginia Union University.
Originally from Havre de Grace, Maryland, Jaylyn Brown has called Hampton Roads home for the past decade. She is an established publicist and communications specialist with a robust background in marketing, events, and community development. Her efforts and projects have been featured and highlighted on national platforms, as she has worked alongside Super Bowl Champions and legends in the NFL, MLB, and NBA, helping players, coaches, and executives by curating their community initiatives and nonprofit ventures. Brown is most proud of her leading roles in the developments of fundraising events for Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin and Vice President of Jordan Brand, Howard White. In 2018 she was named Director of Community Development for retired NFL Safety and Virginia Beach City Councilman, Aaron Rouse. Currently, she is the Communications Director for the American Heart Association Hampton Roads. In addition to making waves in her industry, Brown is a published author, serves on the board of the Hampton Roads Youth Foundation and enjoys spending time with family, traveling, and making a difference in her community.
Dr. W. Timothy Orr
Dr. W. Timothy Orr (Tim) is an Assistant Professor/ Coordinator of Sport Administration Graduate Program at Hampton University. Prior to working at Hampton University, he served as the Coordinator of the Sport Management Program at Elizabeth City State University (ECSU). During his stint at ECSU he also served as the Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance and Assistant Head Football Coach. He holds a BS in Industrial Technology from East Carolina University (1988), MSS in Sport Management from the United States Sports Academy (1993) and earned his EdD in Sport Management from Northcentral University. His interest is in intercollegiate athletic administration and student athlete academic and support services. He has written several articles including “Faculty Experience with and Perceptions of their role in Athletic Reform at a Division II University and an article in the American Football Monthly Journal, entitled “The Mental Aspect of Winning in the Trenches”.
He has successfully directed a NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic program, Assistant AD for compliance, and served as director of marketing and public relations for a Division II intercollegiate athletic conference. He has over 20 years football coaching experience on both Division I and II level. Plus over 13 years of teaching experience in higher education. During his professional career he was selected to participate in two NCAA sponsored professional development programs, Coaches Academy (Football) and Pathway Program (Administration).
He recently hosted a podcast entitled “Beyond the Lights” which provided current and former student-athletes a platform to discuss current issues in sports. Also, he conducts a speaker series “Classroom Chat with Dr. Tim Orr”. He is a proud member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and Prince Hall Mason. Serve on the Board of Directors for the Hampton Roads Youth Foundation.
He has two children Nyla (NCCU) and DeVaughn (Hampton).
John Cunningham has over 20 years of business leadership, professional services and business start-up experience.
Currently, John is the Global Digital & Emerging Technologies, COO at Ernst & Young (EY) where he helps lead the firm’s digital and emerging technologies practice, providing strategic and operational leadership and support. Prior to his current role, John also led entrepreneurial initiatives within EY’s Strategic Growth Markets practice in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, developing two reports on high impact entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial ecosystems. Prior to this experience, John was a consultant where he provided operational and strategy consulting services and transaction support at EY for Private Equity and M&A clients.
Additionally, John is Partner and Co-founder of CollegeWeekends.com, a short-term/vacation rental platform that focuses on college town markets across the US. As an entrepreneur, John has built several sports and technology-related businesses, including the Best of the 757 high school athlete showcase series as well as two sports training centers in Hampton Roads. John has also served as a mentor for the University of Virginia’s i-Lab through the Darden School Graduate MBA program, where he has helped support the next wave of entrepreneurs.
John currently lives in Chesapeake, Virginia with his wife and two kids, and has been a strong supporter of area student-athletes over the past decade and a half.
John received an MBA from the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia and a BS in Commerce from the McIntire School of Business from the University of Virginia.